letr – UI | UX case study

an iOS app designed to keep you connected 

Overview: letr is a project that was created during the height of the Pandemic, and is a response to the social isolation and disconnection from all that we love during the long stretches of isolation.
My Roles: UX | UI Researcher &  Product Designer
Timeline: 10 weeks
Methodology: IDEO’s 5 stages of Design Thinking
Tools: Pen & Paper, Marvel POP, Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator, Canva, InVision, Figma
Project Type: Academic

1 – EMPATHY

Introduction to the Problem Space

Initially, I was examining a few potential problem areas, all of which focused on isolation brought on by the pandemic. The main concerns focused on the following points:

Since the pandemic hit more and more people are feeling more isolated and feel connected to others.

Social media offers a very superficial connection to most people, often decontextualized by the “scroll.” This period in time has really highlighted the importance of real human connection, and it is something that is not being met currently without causing individuals a feeling of anxiety.

This issue affects most people that are digital-natives, especially people that live in cities without other family or roommates, or with people that they want to have regular contact with.
The ultimate impact I am trying to achieve is to offer a solution for people that want to keep track of their friends and family in a more meaningful way that isn’t just the superficial scroll of social media.
Ways to alleviate pain-points the problem-space causes is by offering them ways to connect with people in a way that feels more meaningful than just a social media contact.

SECONDARY RESEARCH

The Atlantic Magazine recently published an article outlining the recognition of many different levels of friendships, and how the pandemic has essentially “erased” entire categories of more casual friendships – those that you might see in a public setting like a bar or coffee shop.
Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter coined the concept of these levels of friendships as one of “weak ties.” He also decreed that this level of friendship, one’s “outer circle,” to be vital to our social health.
Human beings are social creatures – it takes the combined levels of both close and weak connections to satiate our natural drive for connection. The pandemic has heightened this need, and has also left most of us not knowing exactly what we are missing – the casual but regular connections – but knowing that something is missing.
This missing layer of communication can have adverse effects on folks that are already introverted or easily get social anxiety with the idea of meeting new people. Digital fatigue is a phenomenon felt by many people as it is, so the idea of using more emotional bandwidth to maintain more casual connections are often left by the wayside, ultimately creating a deeper state of alienation.

Primary Research

I began my research process with user interviews around how people are staying in touch with their loved ones during the pandemic.
Objective: Conduct 5 user interviews to collect insights on users’ communication methods and experiences to inform proto-personas, journey maps and app functionality ideas.
Methods & Tools: Qualitative data was collected through20-30 long minute scripted user interviews which allowed time for open-ended questions and follow-up responses as per natural conversational flow. THese interviews were conducted via video calls and transcribed.

KEY FINDINGS

Motivations, Pain Points and Behaviours from user interviews
In summary, the interviewees all tried some methods to keep in touch with friends and family and were open to the methods their friends preferred. They all ranked Text Messaging as their primary Go-To, followed by Messenger. The majority of them didn’t want to be the first person to contact someone, for fear of interrupting them, and appreciated when someone made a point to send an unprompted message to them.

2 – DEFINE

Project Hypothesis

I believe that by giving people easy-to-use tools and methods to keep in regular contact with friends and family that they will feel a stronger sense of community and will make efforts to stay connected.

3 – IDEATE

Based on the problem space and my user findings I wanted to design an app that gives users options to contact with their close friends and family – the people they want to keep in touch with. I wanted to create a digital solution that provides many opportunities to connect – texting, email, social media, sending gifts or phone calls.

ITERATIONS & USER TESTING

I did some paper sketchings of a potential user flow. Next, I conducted 2 rounds of User Tests, on Lo-Fi Wireframes, modifying the iterations based on usability findings.
The User Testing Scenario: the user wants to send their BFF a gift for a special occasion to let them know they are thinking of them.

PEN & PAPER SKETCHES    |    LO-FI WIREFRAMES

MAIN CONSIDERATIONS AFTER USER TESTINGS

Round 1:

  • The general consensus was that the user flow was easy to follow, although the greyscale profile pictures were too busy.
  • The filter options weren’t intuitive and need rethinking.
  • Each user wanted to filter by different options, which showed a disconnect in both the user task flow as well as my introduction background story to the app before testing began.
  • My introductory user task description didn’t set some users up for success and definitely needed refining.

Round 2:

  • In general, the task flow was more fluid, but there were opportunities for further clarity.
  • Adjustments to the logged-in user’s profile picture need to happen on some screens for more information clarity.
  • Further refinements of the filter options will be beneficial.

BIGGEST CONSIDERATIONS AFTER 2 ROUNDS OF USER TESTING:

  • Changed Filters Options for more clarity.
  • Changed the User Icon and added a Settings symbol for improved distinctions.
  • Changed the layout on the Individual Contact Page for more clarity. There was a second Confirmation modal added at the end of the flow to strongly signify the user was about to leave the site.

 

 

4 – PROTOTYPE

VISUAL IDENTITY

Before designing the UI, I brainstormed a cohesive visual identity that reflected the CORE VALUES of the brand. Here is a quick look!

COLOUR PALETTE

Using the 60/30/10 Rule, I selected the 3 Main Brand Colours.

Wordmark Ideation & Sketches

TYPOGRAPHY & ICONOGRAPHY

BUTTONS, BOXES, FORMS, NAVIGATION & SEGMENTED CONTROLS

GRIDS, MODALS & CARDS

The prototypes were designed with the 8pt system, with either a 4 Column or 8 Column Grid, depending on screen infomation. 16px Gutters and 16px Margins were also in place.
Iconography is sourced from the iOS Human Interface with the exception of the “List” Icon. I created it to pair with the “Image Card” Icon for different view options.

THE FINAL PROTOTYPE

The High-Fidelity Prototype can be found HERE

MARKETING

Marketing Site Ideas

I put together a mockup for both website marketing and mobile marketing. I took into account the Brand Identity, feeling and Flat Design aesthetic to come up with an integrative concept.

I have also created device mockups for advertising opportunities. Here are some examples of the Landing Page and Web App across platforms – iOS, Android and Web. Although the app was originally designed for iOS, ideally it would be platform-agnostic.

LINK TO DESKTOP MARKETING SITE PROTOTYPE

LINK TO WEB APP MARKETING SITE PROTOTYPE

DESIGN IMPACT & FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS

Based on my research as well as my observation of the social landscape, I feel an app like letr would provide an opportunity to connect in ways that aren’t currently happening.

We are in an unprecedented moment in our modern history, and it will take us, as social humans, to adjust to the world again. It is forever changed, and so are we.

We need to seek out ways to remain connected, and letr provides a way to do that.

VALUE PROPOSITION:

letr’s main competitive advantage is that it allows the user to control what information they want, or don’t want, to share. It also allows for quick sharing updates, something to consider in this time of relocation and exploration in the lives of many young people.

There are several Contacts Management Apps on the market, but they are geared for more of a business use, to keep track of work associates, scheduling meetings etc. letr appeals to the everyday user in the way that social media does. It lets the user keep track of their close connections, and interact with them in more meaningful ways.

RISK MANAGEMENT:

During all the phases of my research, I witnessed and learned that people have many different preferences when it comes to utilizing more digital tools. One of the main marketing objectives would be to showcase the ease of letr. It is cloud-based for easy cross-platform syncing. The ability to quickly send a friend a gift via their public wishlist or quick cash via PayPal or Venmo are high selling features, so an emphasis on these capabilities in marketing campaigns would be an asset.

A/B testing would be implemented to gain further insights into usability and interaction details, helping to define the design even further.